Saturday Apr 13

CassellsCyrusandParcerisasFrancesc Francesc Parcerisas was born in 1944 and is the author of fourteen volumes of poetry, including Still Life with Children, Triumph of the Present, and The Golden Age, is considered the premier Catalan poet of his generation—a “miracle generation” of poets who came of age as Franco’s public banning of the Catalan language came to an end. He is also a masterly, award-winning translator of an impressive array of significant international writers, including Joseph Conrad, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Doris Lessing, Katherine Mansfield, Joyce Carol Oates, Cesare Pavese, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, Rimbaud, Susan Sontag, William Styron, and Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. Among his numerous translations from French, Italian, and English into Catalan, he is most famous in Catalonia for his translation of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. From 1998-2005 he was director of the Institute of Catalan Letters in Barcelona. He teaches at the autonomous University of Barcelona. His own poems have been translated into Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Basque, Gallego, and Welsh, among others.  Among his awards are the 1966 Carles Riba Prize, the 1983 Critics’ Prize for Catalan Poetry, the 1983 Catalan Government Prize for Catalan Literature, the 1992 Lletre d’Or Prize for his volume Triumph of the Present, the 1992 Serra D’Or Critic’s Prize for his Catalan version of Seamus Heaney’s The Haw Lantern, and the 2001 Cavall Verd-Rafael Jaume Prize for his translation of Ezra Pound’s A Draft of XXX Cantos.

Cyrus Cassells is the author of five books of poetry: The Mud Actor, Soul Make a Path through Shouting, Beautiful Signor, More Than Peace and Cypresses, and The Crossed-Out Swastika. Among his honors are a Lannan Literary Award, a Lambda Literary Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, and a Pushcart Prize. A Professor of English at Texas State University-San Marcos, he divides his time between Austin, Santa Fe, and Paris, and works on occasion in Barcelona as a translator of Catalan poetry.
The Good Thief

Unbearable: the cross’s nails.
My body’s heaviness
rends me, a rag
steeped in vinegar.
Now I’m eager to heap
indignities on my tormentors
but mostly I’m anxious
to die soon.
And in response to this messiah,
muttering like a madman
who washes windows of cars
stopped at a red light,
well, you’d better say yes.
He thinks he’s got
a direct line to God the Father,
but he’s raving.
Amid his lunacy, what lingers
is a souvenir of my own dad,
my own suffering,
how he lifted me in his arms,
and chuckled at my games,
on his hard-luck mattress
laid on the floor.
And I know my Father forgives me,
and fathoms my anger,
but I don’t want to die;
it’s better to give up the ghost
than be crucified.
—I’ll never break anything else.
Forgive me, father.
Save me from this pauper king
and his bunch,
hoist me on your back once more,
as you lounge, half asleep,
on our lowly hovel’s
patched-up mattress.

El Lladre Bo

Els claus, a dalt la creu, són un dolor insuportable.
El pes del cos m’esquinça el cos,
com un parrac xop de vinagre.
Ara els vull mal, però sobretot vull morir prest.
I a aquest que em parla, un boig que frega els vidres
dels cotxes que s’aturen davant un semàfor en vermell,
més val dir-li que sí. Creu que li parla el pare
i el pobre desvarieja. Però allò que m’acompanya
és que em recorda, enmig de tant dolor, el meu:
i com m’acomboiava entre els seus braços,
i com el feia riure amb els meus jocs,
i com, de nit, tossia a la màrfega del terra.
I sé que ell em perdona, i que comprèn la meva ira
per no voler morir i desitjar la mort abans que la tortura.
--No tornaré a trencar res mes. Perdona’m, pare.
Allunya’m d’aquest pobre rei i el seu seguici,
i torna’m a carregar a coll, mig adormit,
fins a la màrfega apedaçada de la nostra casa molt humil.


Old Tree, II

What thrived in the tree still lingers,
for everything that was
Rather like the resting hand
murmuring: come.
Because the hand is synonymous
with the man himself:
tree and thought
craving and seeking
to survive in you,
for if you contemplate being,
you exist,
and if you consider
the notion of life’s emptiness
you become emptiness.
The hand approaches
to reward me with certainty,
almost as if being and desire
accumulated on our lips,
where, we are, in truth,
the tree.
Where I am your bark,
and you, a burning emptiness
within me.

Arbre VellL, II

El que hi havia en l’arbre, hi és;
perquè tot allò que fou, és.
Només cal la mà que hi descansa
i que li diu: “vine”.
Perquè la mà és ell: arbre i pensament
i temps que et vol i et busca
per sobreviure en tu
perquè si penses el ser, ets;
i, si penses el buit del ser, ets el buit.
Acosta la mà per donar-me certesa,
gairebé com si voler i ser
haguessin d’ajuntar-se als llavis
on som, nosaltres, arbre.
On jo sóc la teva escorça
i tu el buit que em crema.